While the Union Budget FY24 must focus on education and skill development in general, it also has to emphasise on new-age skills that young Indians need to thrive in a digital economy, Sanjay Gupta, vice-chancellor, World University of Design, told FE.
“There are emerging job opportunities, including in digital and creative industries,” he said. “There is a shift in students’ preference from mainstream subjects to visual & performing arts, crafts, music, literature, movies, gaming, architecture, fashion design, industrial design, functional computer software & design, advertising, and publishing, etc.”
He added that India is not just rich and diverse in culture, art and craftsmanship, but also has abundant communities of skilled artisans. “With the reach of their potential restricted and their market unorganised, correct measures could help harness this latent talent,” Gupta said.
Creative industry, he added, needs to be treated as a new sector, requiring clear policies. “Areas of culture, art, craftsmanship, fashion, gaming and architecture have the potential of creating innumerable job opportunities across skill sets and educational qualifications,” he said. “Policies that help attract entrepreneurs to this area, help create a new generation of skilled workers and protect intellectual property would go a long way in boosting this sector.”
Other expectations from the Budget include:
—The government must look into creating a National Design Research Fund to support the development of new design technologies and methods, and to attract top talent to the field. This could be implemented easily through R&D departments of various ministries who can support projects financially and by widening their scope from STEM to STEAM. This could further help in creating a better faculty base, infrastructure and support students to carry out assignments effectively.
—The education ministry could introduce a slew of measures for design-faculty development. Since shortage of qualified faculty members is the most significant challenge facing design education in India, the first step would be to bring in foreign faculty that are qualified and experienced in their field, to teach the first few batches as also to train new faculty. Institutions can be incentivised for a limited period of, say, five years to hire foreign faculty members. A foreign faculty hiring fund can be created to be used to support the hiring of foreign faculty members by providing financial assistance for their travel and living expenses. Streamlining visa and immigration processes as also giving a tax-incentive on salaries paid to foreign faculty members will make it easier for institutions to hire them and will encourage more foreign faculty members to come to India to teach.
—A CSR like tax incentive for companies collaborating with design institutions across verticals would be highly encouraging for design students to enhance their exposure and employability.
—Design education is one of the most expensive streams. “Increasing scholarships and grants for students pursuing design education will make it more accessible for those from diverse financial backgrounds. Doing so will allow real talent from low-income families to seize relevant opportunities.